The Internet Marketing Driver: Glenn Gabe's goal is to help marketers build powerful and measurable web marketing strategies.

Monday, April 21, 2008

E-Commerce Customer Reviews, Common Pitfalls That Can Impact Sales


Customer Reviews and e-Commerce ImpactIf you run an e-commerce website, then chances are you’re fully aware of how ratings and reviews can impact sales. I think everyone agrees that enabling customers to review products is a powerful way to leverage user-generated content to improve the overall buying experience for visitors. That said, what constitutes a quality review, what are prospective customers looking for in a review, and how can the various types of reviews impact conversion? Not all reviews are created equal, so if you are thinking about implementing reviews on your website, I've listed four pitfalls below to watch out for. You might be able to plan your implementation with these in mind!

When Are Reviews Necessary?
Before I list the pitfalls, I also wanted to quickly explain when reviews are beneficial to prospective customers and when they aren’t necessary. I don’t really need to read a review for GAP jeans or a Banana Republic belt or a Canon calculator. We all know they are high quality and they are fairly simple items. In my opinion, it comes down to price, safety, and how a product impacts your life. Lesser known brands from smaller companies might require reviews from consumers versus bigger, well known brands. In addition, how the product will impact your life is an important factor for reviews. For example, you would probably want to read reviews for infant car seats, a high end camcorder, or an expensive piece of furniture. Price, safety, and how that product impacts your life will dictate if reviews are necessary. Again, just my opinion.

Without further ado, some pitfalls of e-commerce reviews include:

1. When there are no reviews!
If visitors are expecting to find reviews and they can’t find any for the product they are looking for, then there’s a chance they will lose confidence during the purchase process and move on. That's especially true if you boast about your website reviews! Even the slightest second thought can be a conversion killer. If you are having trouble gaining reviews from customers, then I highly recommend launching a campaign to drive more reviews. Leverage your in-house email list and get people back to your site to review the products they purchased. Heck, give them an incentive…maybe 15-20% off their next purchase in exchange for a review. Having no reviews can impact more than sales for the product at hand, it could be interpreted by visitors that you don’t have enough volume or customers to generate reviews. Again, not a good thing when someone is ready to buy from you…

2. Who is actually writing the review?
Let’s face it, customers aren’t stupid. They want to read reviews from similar people who are in similar situations. For example, anonymous reviews are close to worthless in my opinion. Depending on what I’m buying, I want to hear from someone in a similar situation (who has a name). I don’t need to know them obviously, but I want to know that it’s from a somewhat quality source. For example, whenever I buy a tech book (like a programming book), I want to hear from other developers. I have an entire bookcase full of programming books and not all were written perfectly, to say the least… So, something like, “I’ve been programming for 13 years and this book was outstanding. The chapters started with a solid foundation, then moved to basic coding examples, and then real-world coding projects. The samples always worked (don’t laugh, many programming books come with code examples that don’t work) and the book is a great reference for when I get stuck.” A review like that would get my attention. Last year, I wanted to read reviews when I was looking for a new golf driver. I definitely wanted to hear from golfers in my skill range. Hearing from a scratch golfer wouldn’t be helpful, nor would hearing from a beginner. Solid reviews helped build confidence and got me closer to the sale… Now, I still needed to blast a few golf balls at the range before buying the club! You get my point.

3. Mixed Reviews (Great reviews mixed with poor reviews).
Products that have mixed reviews will tend to give customers less confidence in moving forward with a purchase. It makes sense, right? How can there be 5 fantastic reviews and 5 horrible reviews? That’s a definite red flag for me (and others too). I wouldn’t take a risk on buying something online that half the reviewers thought was a waste of money. Would you? I’m not referring to reviews that rate a product as mediocre. I’m referring to those weird set of reviews where some people loved the item and others hated the item. Seems fishy, doesn’t it? I always move on… It also leads me to think that there’s a fake review or two in the mix… Read on. ;-)

4. Fake Reviews
I think we’ve all come across these, right? (probably written as anonymous)? It’s funny, most people can’t write a positive review if they are forced to. Don’t believe me? Go ahead…try and write a positive review for something that you don’t really like or that’s your own product. I will guarantee you that it sounds obvious. ;-) If I come across a fake review, there had better be a real one for that product…or there’s a good chance I’m moving on. My hope is that you can pick out the fake reviews, and if you can’t, then hopefully there are plenty of other reviews for the item at hand.

So there you have it, four pitfalls when offering customer reviews on your website. I definitely believe reviews are a great feature to add on your e-commerce site, but I think you should implement them with a good understanding of the types of reviews out there and how they can impact conversion, user experience, and return buyers. My hope is that you will keep these pitfalls in mind and try to form strategies to overcome them. For example, launching campaigns to increase reviews, dealing with anonymous reviews, tracking the impact of reviews, etc. When you break it down, reviews can help your customers make informed decisions, and also help you determine the right products to sell on your website. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go review the Tonka Truck I just bought my son. ;-)

GG

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The DVR and Its Effect on TV Advertising Recall, Do Your Commercials Stand Out?


DVRs and TV Advertising RecallOr does that really matter? More on that later. First, I’m a big DVR user and have been one for a number of years. I bought my first TIVO about 5 years ago, quickly added a second, and then moved to the Comcast HD DVR last year. So, I read an article in late February about a study conducted by General Electric’s NBC Universal to document the recall power of TV commercials when DVR users were whipping through them at 6x speed. In other words, do you recall an advertisement as you are fast forwarding through commercials on your DVR? By the way, that’s exactly how I watch the shows I record. In addition, if I choose to watch a live show, I just start watching the show 15 minutes in (for a 1 hour show) and then I can still fly through the commercials. Now back to the testing. The following quote is directly from the Wall Street Journal article:

Tracking biometric measurements such as eye movements, heart rate and sweat, the study found that the ads people concentrated on the most and recalled the most shared several traits. The most successful ads concentrated the action and the brand's logo in the middle of the screen, didn't rely on multiple scene changes, audio or text to tell the story, and often used familiar characters. People were also more likely to remember an ad in fast-forward mode if they had seen it once before live.

Glenn’s translation: A big static logo in the center of the screen. ;-)

Uh, tracking biometric measurement?? OK... The most successful ads didn’t rely on audio to tell the story?? The more I think about this topic, the more I think that this entire study wasn’t necessary. I guess it was for networks trying to hold on to TV advertisers at all costs, right?

Paging Dr. Gabe… Dr. Gabe Please Come to the Living Room:
So, I decided to conduct my own study. That’s right…and without biometric measurements, my heart rate wasn’t monitored, my eye movements weren’t scanned, and my sweat glands weren’t checked! I flipped on my TV, drilled into my recordings, armed with a high tech toolkit for a high tech doctor of technology (a pad and pen) and started my first show. My goal was to fast forward through each set of commercials at the highest speed and see which ads I could recall. That is, if I didn’t go into convulsions first! :) Since every study needs a name, I am calling it “The Strobe Logo Study” conducted by Glenn Gabe, Technology Scientist at Large. ;-)

Without further ado, here are the results! I will also give my quick analysis of the results following the data.

LOST on ABC (Probably my favorite show right now...)
1 Hour in Length
I started zipping through the commercials at the highest fast forward speed. Believe me, the highest speed is darn fast…each segment of commercials was over in a few seconds. I remember seeing a flash of the Wendy’s logo (centered on screen), an Applebee’s logo and a Dunkin Donuts logo (both also centered on screen). More on ad positioning later. Each was up for a flash…probably a quarter (1/4) of a second. Also keep in mind that the three logos I remembered are big brands that have been advertising for years. This obviously helped with my recall of their ads.

The Sports Reporters on ESPN
30 minutes in length
The only advertisement I remember seeing was CDW. I saw this logo twice during the show and for a little longer than the logos in LOST. This intrigued me, so I rewound the show a little to watch the CDW ad. It ends up they sponsor the show (see, I didn’t know this because I never watched it in real time!) So, as a lead into the show, they have a voiceover say, “The Sports Reporters is sponsored by…CDW”. This takes a few seconds, which leaves their logo on-screen longer. I saw this twice during the show when whipping through it on my DVR. This is an interesting note for TV advertisers. Also, the logo was centered on the screen, an important factor during my scientific study. :)

American Idol on FOX (like I had to tell you…)
60 Minutes in length
I remember seeing a Citizens Bank logo (I think) and an Infiniti logo. And, maybe…just possibly… a Lowes guy. Then again, it could have been a 7 Eleven guy or Wawa guy. I told you…it’s darn fast! Any quick movement or elaborate camera angles looks like a blur in fast forward. It makes sense, though. The common thread for TV commercial recall was becoming apparent. Any commercial that ended with a large logo centered on screen had a chance of recall (unless I blinked during the 1/4 of a second!)

Dancing With The Stars on ABC
60 Minutes in Length
I’ll cut to the chase…I recalled 3 ads, Advil, Petsmart, and a Nivea product shot. Again, each logo was centered on screen and fairly large (and the Nivea product was also large and centered). Are you seeing a trend here?

Here’s an interesting side note:
When you watch a recorded show, it will abruptly stop at a random frame at the end of the show…which is rarely when it fades to black. Dancing with the Stars ended on a BBC Worldwide America logo. So, since my DVR stopped on that frame, I saw this logo for about 10 full seconds before it returned to my DVR menu. If you are still looking for ways to appear in a DVR world, this could be one of them. BBC Worldwide America was not an advertiser, but that spot could be opened up for advertising...

Conan O’Brien on NBC (Just a brilliant comedian!)
30 Minutes
I literally didn’t recall any specific advertisement… Not one. So, I went through it a second time to make sure my eyes weren’t just fried out of my head from the previous shows… Nope, not one ad, logo, brand, etc. I guess none of the commercials used a logo centered on-screen. Read on for my scientific analysis of my DVR study.

Is this what it’s come down to for TV advertisers?
Triggering convulsions in people to see if they remember a flash of a logo? Really? I know not everyone has a DVR (yet), but if this is the type of study we are conducting, then there’s something very, very wrong. I can hear the scientists who conducted the NBC Universal study now. {In my best European scientist voice} “Yes, it seems that even 1/8 of a second can impact your brand’s recognition in the mind of lowly consumers. TV advertising is still hugely powerful and we may turn to 60 strobe flashes of logos in the future versus 30 second spots. Sure, some people may be hospitalized from the flashes of light, but it’s all worth it if the Advil logo shows up, is recalled, and then helps the hospitalized person's family overcome its collective headaches by using Advil.” OK, I’m a bit sarcastic, but it’s hard not to be!

How To Really Enhance Your TV Advertising, ONLINE
When I think of the cost to produce high end TV commercials, then the cost for airing those commercials, and then combine that with the growing number of DVR users, it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to understand why traditional TV advertising is not in good shape. I’m not saying that TV commercials should go away…but I believe that you need to supplement your TV campaigns with other campaign elements to maximize exposure and engagement. For example, I always recommend adding an online viral component to your TV commercials. Have a micro-site or landing page to engage your brand and advertisement, to help with lead generation, to work in a contest, to spark user generated content, to add a blog, etc. and then utilize online marketing channels to drive visitors there. So, combining your high end TV commercials with a robust micro-site, and then utilize paid search, organic search, email marketing, social media, blogging, display advertising, etc. to drive people there is a smart way to go. Then you’ve got yourself a serious campaign, covering all avenues, and using innovative methods. Versus…trying to justify your TV commercials with “flashes of a logo” or what I’m calling “The Strobe Logo”. There is so much you can do online to enhance your TV advertisements, and at a reasonable cost. To me, it’s a necessary addition that can unleash the true power of viral marketing.

Now let me go put an ice bag on my eyes and give my poor DVR and TV a break! Until my next scientific experiment, this is Dr. Gabe signing off. Does anyone know a good eye doctor? Maybe I should get in touch with the people who went through the original study to see who they recommend!

GG

Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, scientist, or PHD. Please don’t ask me for medical assistance or to conduct clinical studies. If you need assistance from a medical doctor, please consult your healthcare company for a referral. I am not authorized to prescribe medication, recommend time off from work, or advocate medical procedures. :)

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, March 03, 2008

SMS and Common Short Codes, Using Text Messaging for Mobile Marketing Campaigns


Using Short Codes for Mobile Marketing (SMS and Text Messaging)I’m sure some of you reading this blog post are asking, “What’s a short code?” I’m also sure many of you reading this blog post watch American Idol. What’s the connection? Well, at the end of the each performance and each show, Ryan Seacrest gives you a 4 digit code that you can use to text message your vote for your favorite contestant. For example, text “Vote” to 5706 to vote for Jane Smith. Well, 5706 is a short code. Although TV has made short codes famous in the US, it’s still not as popular as in other parts of the world. In my opinion, its popularity will begin to grow in the US, and sooner than later... Common Short Codes (CSC) are basically the domain names of the mobile age, yet many marketers still don’t know much about them, which is crazy, since Mobile Marketing will be an important element in your marketing mix in the near future. My hope is that after you read this post, you’ll agree that SMS can be used creatively to enhance your marketing campaigns. I’ll explain more about this later in the post.

Basic Information and Definitions About Mobile Messaging and Short Codes:

Let’s define SMS – It stands for Short Message Service and it enables you to send text messages on your mobile device. When you hear people talk about “text messaging” or “texting”, they are referring to SMS.

Let’s also define Common Short Code – A short numeric code of 5 or 6 numbers that can be used in place of a longer phone number for messaging. Since the codes are shorter, they are easier to remember and utilize, especially for marketing purposes. i.e. Text “Vote” to 5706 to cast your vote…

How to Obtain a Short Code and How Much Do They Cost?
You can visit the Common Short Code Administration’s website and review the process for obtaining a short code. In a nutshell, a "select" short code, or vanity code, is $1000 per month and a random short code (random numbers) is $500 per month. Both must be paid up front and you can lease a short code for 3, 6, and 12 months. A select short code (or vanity code) would be something like COKE, IDOL, JEEP, etc. Once you obtain your short code, then you’ll need to gain approval from the wireless providers for routing your common short code (CSC) throughout their network. Then, in order to implement your CSC, you’ll probably want to get in touch with an application provider and connection aggregator that already have relationships with the specific providers. Think about it in normal web terms, you can register a domain name, but what does that really get you?? You still need a website built and way for visitors to do something on your site, right? You can talk more with a connection aggregator about what you’ll need in place for your campaigns.

OK, Use Short Codes for Mobile Marketing…But How?
There are literally dozens of ways to creatively use short codes for marketing purposes from voting to contests to rewards programs to wom to viral marketing. American Idol made using short codes for voting famous and you can use SMS marketing for the same purpose. That’s definitely a natural fit (especially for your customers who have used SMS for voting in the past…) You can also use short codes for lead generation. For example, include your short code in an advertisement and have people text the code to learn more about your service or product. You can use short codes for subscriptions purposes. For example, have people text your short code to sign up to receive notifications when your product or service is updated. Are you ready to launch a viral marketing campaign? Use short codes within your viral campaign to give customers access to additional information, media, ringtones, etc. How about organic word of mouth marketing (WOM)? Maybe you set up a short code that your company evangelists can use to post updates about their latest word of mouth experience. i.e. They just spoke with someone on the train into Manhattan about your product, so they quickly message your short code with the details. Running a rewards program? Enable your members to text their latest promotional codes to your common short code to increase their rewards points. I can keep going here, but it obviously can be an extremely useful tool for a smart mobile marketer. You just need to think creatively and keep mobile in mind…

Glenn Gabe and the Internet Marketing Driver, Mobile-Style
OK, so I couldn’t resist… I asked a mobile marketing friend of mine to set me up with a short code for my blog. Here’s the deal…if you want to receive notifications from me on your mobile device when I update my blog, then follow the directions below:

Simply Text IMD to 23907 now. You’ll receive a text message from me immediately.
Reply YES to the message if you want to receive alerts on your mobile phone when I add new blog posts or update my blog. I may also message you now and then with internet marketing tips and tricks. You can always opt out at any time, so it’s worth a try to see how it works. Go ahead, try it now!

In closing, I hope this post helped you gain a better understanding of common short codes and how mobile marketing can be a part of your marketing mix. If you haven’t thought of using short codes for marketing purposes, my recommendation is to start thinking about it now. Actually, your desired vanity short code may be registered already! Don’t get caught like many did with domain names…get your short codes sooner than later.

Now, have any of you already worked with short codes as part of your marketing campaigns? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Post a comment now!

GG

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How to Make a YouTube Video, A Beginner’s Checklist for Marketers


How to Create a YouTube Video, Follow This Video Production ChecklistLast week, I was helping a client produce a YouTube video and I explained the various steps involved in the production process. After our meeting, it hit me that the list of steps could be a valuable blog post for anyone interested in creating their own video. So, if you are thinking about shooting your own YouTube video and don’t know where to start, this post is for you. The list below is a great starting point and covers the essential elements to consider while planning and creating your video production.

Disclaimer: Creating a high quality video isn’t easy…even if your intent is to create a low budget, guerrilla-style video. You’ll read many articles on the web about how easy it is, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not. Here’s what is easy: It is easy to shoot a shaky video, with bad sound, bad lighting, horrible edits, copyrighted music, and one that’s completely disjointed. But, that’s not what you want to do, right? You want a video that you can be proud of, something that’s viral, and that gets people talking. So, don’t just grab your camera, run out with a few friends, and start shooting. You might get lucky and have some good footage, but my guess is you won’t be so happy. End of disclaimer. :)

1. Concept Development (Brainstorming)
OK, so you want to create a YouTube video, but you are staring at a blank sheet of paper… Yes, concept development isn’t easy and it’s why the creative brains behind TV shows, movies, commercials, etc. can make boat loads of money. :) I recommend getting your hands on a white board, grabbing a few of your coworkers and hitting a conference room. Then begin a divergent thinking session. Brainstorm lots of ideas related to your core concept. DO NOT LIMIT ANY IDEAS AT THIS STAGE. Please, don’t let any idea killers in the room. That’s why it’s called divergent thinking… Start jotting them on the whiteboard, organized by major category (humor, serious, action, parody, etc.) If you have the right group of people in the room, then you should have a few dozen ideas on your whiteboard. During the process of working through your favorite ideas, think about the following:

a. How original is the idea? Has it been done 50 times already or is it a new angle? Will you build upon or parody an older concept? Originality is key.
b. Cost (if you have a great idea, but it’s going to cost an arm and a leg, it might not work...)
c. How viral can your concept be? Is it something you believe your target market will enjoy enough to pass along?
d. Location, location, location. Where are you going to shoot the video? Shooting a video in a baseball stadium would be great, but is that really possible? Is a park better? Do you need permission to be there? So on and so forth.
e. How complex will the editing be? Will you need to create a dozen effects for the final edit? How will you accomplish that? Do you even have the software or skillset to do it?

2. Script and Storyboard
Excellent, you have your concept and it’s a killer idea that’s completely possible to shoot on your budget. :) Now what? Well, it’s time to write your script. This is also not an easy task. If you’ve never written a script before, there’s a good chance that you’ll be in pain. If you find yourself cooking along, then you might want to do this full time. :) Personally, I love this stage… This is where you get to flesh out your concept. The script and storyboard are the foundation for your production. If you have a poorly mapped out script and storyboard, you are setting yourself up for failure. Take as much time as you need at this stage to get it right. You should determine your main characters, how much dialogue will there be, determine locations for the shoot, and of course begin writing the actual script. Just to clarify, the script covers what your characters will be saying and doing during the shoot, where the storyboard helps you map out the flow of the video. Keep in mind that the storyboard doesn’t have to be a work of art…I’ve created several storyboards that were on 8.5x11 sheets of white paper, framed with pencil, using stick figures. I’ve also developed some storyboards that were more elaborate…it’s all about timing and how involved your production will be.

3. The Shot List
By now your script and storyboard should be done. Now you need to create your shot list from your script and storyboard. A shot list is essential. It helps you determine every shot you need for your production. And it’s not just about your core shots, it’s also about getting additional footage for your edit. For example, if you were shooting at a baseball field like I mentioned earlier, you definitely need to get some establishing shots. Maybe you will pan up to reveal the stadium sign or get a 360 shot from inside the stadium. You need to think about all of your shots or you’ll find yourself cursing a lot in post production. :) The shot list can be a simple Word document listing each shot you need to capture with some notes about the scene. In addition, I would buy a clipboard and attach the script, storyboard, and shot list to it on the day of your shoot.

4. Necessary Video Production Equipment
You are getting closer to the shoot and you’ve got a solid script, storyboard, and a well planned shot list. Now you need to think about your equipment. I can write an entire post about each of the bullets below, but I’ll try and keep each description as brief as possible. Also keep in mind that this is a basic list. You can really go nuts with video production equipment, which is why the title of this section is “Necessary Video Production Equipment”. :)

a. Your Camera
Duh, right? Just like with other electronic equipment, video cameras have come down in price. Just make sure you have one (or buy one) that can do the job at hand. You don’t absolutely need a $5000 HD camera, but you also don’t want a $100 hunk of junk that captures horrible video and audio. You won’t have a chance… I’ve provided a few links below to CNET’s editor’s picks for both home video and pro/semi-pro cameras:

Pro and Semi-Pro Cameras – Editor’s Choice
http://reviews.cnet.com/4370-6500_7-135-103.html?tag=lnav

Home Video Cameras – Editor’s Choice
http://reviews.cnet.com/4370-6500_7-135-102.html?tag=lnav


b. Microphones
There is one thing you should keep in mind when thinking about audio. Most people don’t really notice high quality audio…they just know bad audio as soon as they hear it. They are used to great audio on TV, in movies, in commercials, etc. There are some really cost effective ways to capture quality audio and I highly recommend making the investment in a few microphones. For example, I have a great wireless lavaliere microphone from Audio Technica that only cost $50. It’s easy to use and works great. Audio is extremely hard to adjust in post production (while you are editing), so it’s critically important to capture the best possible audio during the shoot. You know the old adage, garbage in, garbage out…

c. Lighting
It’s not easy to light a set. I actually think it’s an art form! I would look into buying a professional lighting kit. If you don’t want to buy a lighting kit, then you’ll need to find locations for your shoot that provide the best possible lighting. Shooting outdoors might be a good way to go, as long as Mother Nature cooperates. If you are flexible with the date of your shoot, then this may be the way to go. Test out various locations PRIOR to your shoot and watch it back on your video monitor or TV. Jot down the best locations, lighting-wise, and try and go back during the same time of day. Lighting is another element that can make or break your production (and it’s hard to adjust in post production.)

d. Smooth Motion (Using a Steadicam or Glidecam)
If you are going to capture a lot of motion, definitely look into building or buying a steadicam or glidecam. There is almost no way to achieve smooth motion without one… Don’t believe me? Grab your camera and walk down your street while shooting. Watch it back and see how fast you get motion sickness. :) A steadicam or glidecam will help smooth out those bumps and can provide a cinematic effect that’s hard to achieve without using one. Note, you will need to practice to achieve smooth motion while keeping your subject in the frame, but it’s well worth it. If you want to build a steadicam, then check out the poor man’s steadicam. I built one a few years ago to see how it would work and it actually works really well. It cost me $25-$30 for supplies and then took me 2 hours to build. If you want to buy a Glidecam, then you might want to check out http://glidecam.com/product-2000-pro.php to learn about the Glidecam 2000. I believe it’s their least expensive product.

e. Backdrop
If you will be shooting any interviews, make sure you have a good location with a nice backdrop. If you want, you can also buy a professional backdrop for about $60-$100. If you think you’ll be shooting several more video interviews, then you can also buy a frame to hold backdrops for about $150-$200. It’s a small investment and will bring a level of professionalism to your production.

5. The Shoot
I can write 10 pages about the day of the shoot, but I’ll keep it brief. Don’t forget your script, storyboard, and shot list. Think about the essentials for your shoot. Make sure you have backups for everything. For example, batteries, microphones, video tape, battery packs, AC power, headphones, duct tape, adapters, wardrobe, etc. Capture lots of footage…you can always delete footage, but you can’t go back and get more! Even if you did choose to go back and shoot more footage at a later time, the lighting would be different, your subjects might look different, the surroundings might have changed, etc. So shoot away. Make sure you bring headphones so you can hear what your camera is recording. Try and minimize any problems before each shot. Before you end the shoot, check your script, storyboard, and shot list again to ensure you have everything you need. You should try and minimize the “Darn, I wish we would have captured more of…” syndrome. :)

6. Post Production (Video Editing)
Now that your video shoot is over, run back to your office to log and capture your footage. Actually, depending on how much footage you shot, you just might want to capture all of it. Hard drive storage is so cheap now that it just might be easier to capture all of the footage. If you need to log and capture your footage, just make sure you give yourself a few seconds before and after each clip (so you have room for editing on each side of the clip).

a. Video Editing Software
There are several popular video editing software packages to choose from. Which one you go with really depends on your requirements. I highly recommend both Adobe Premiere and Apple Final Cut. Both packages are not cheap, but well worth the money. In addition, I believe both have “light” versions of the software for less money. In my opinion, you probably won’t need all of the power of Final Cut or Premiere, so the light versions may work well for you.

Disclaimer: Video editing is not easy. You will improve with time, but chances are your first editing experience will not be pleasant. Keep at it, watch movies, TV shows, etc. to see how the pros do it. There’s a lot you can learn from watching Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Peter Jackson, and James Cameron. :)

b. Length
I would try and keep your YouTube video less than 3 or 4 minutes in length. Attention spans are lower than ever, so if your video is 15 minutes long, good luck. Keep it clear and concise. Keep your viewers in mind. Most people don’t have time to sit through more than a few minutes. Factor this in as you edit.

c. Video Bumpers
Since you’ll be providing your video on several video sharing websites (including YouTube, Google Video, Daily Motion, and numerous other video sites), you’ll want to add bumpers to your video. Bumpers are basically short segments at the beginning and end of your video that provide viewers with information about the production. This is a great place to add the product name, company name, URL, etc. In addition, since viewers have the ability to add your video to their own websites or blogs from YouTube and the other video sites, adding a URL to learn more about your subject matter is a smart idea. This is where bumpers can play an important role in driving viewers to your website or blog!

In closing, I know this was a lot of information, but I hope it gives you the confidence to produce a well made YouTube video! At a minimum, I hope this post contains enough information to get you started. I plan to write more posts about interactive video production so definitely check back often. As usual, if you get frustrated and need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact me. Now, begin your divergent thinking and create a killer YouTube video!

GG

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

MedellintheFilm.com - How HBO is Using Buzz Marketing for a Movie That Hasn’t Been Made on a TV Show That Isn’t Real, Or is It?


HBO Using Buzz Marketing for MedellinTheFilm.comEntourage on HBO
If you have HBO, then chances are you watch Entourage. How can you not love this show, right? It gives you a view into the life of a big time actor in Hollywood and all the craziness that goes along with it. I’ve watched the show since its first episode and I’m glad we started then! For those of you who don’t know Entourage, here’s a quick rundown. Vincent Chase is an up and coming actor (actually a star by now.) He grew up in Queens and brought his buddies out to Hollywood with him (his entourage). You get to follow Vince and his entourage through landing movie deals, spending exorbitant amounts of money, dealing with big time agents, producers, and directors, and encountering all sorts of eclectic folks in Hollywood. In addition, there are many cameos from Hollywood stars, which adds a genuine feel to the show. It’s a fun ride! Watch it if you don’t already…you won’t be disappointed.

HBO Creating Buzz About a Fictional Movie Getting Buzz on the Show, Which Might End Up Creating Enough Buzz to Yield a Real Movie! What?
Phew, now that’s a tough sentence to get out. As part of the storyline, Vince Chase finds a script he loves called Medellin about the notorious drug villain Pablo Escobar. He wants the movie bad enough to buy the script for millions of dollars, ends up as executive producer (along with his buddy named “E”), hires a loose cannon director named Billy, and shoots the movie in South America. As a viewer, you take a journey through the making of a movie, including all of the nail biting situations that real producers go through. You almost start to believe that this is actually going to be a movie… More on this later. As part of the last episode, the trailer for Medellin gets leaked onto YouTube, and the world starts to see the masterpiece (or bomb) that Vince and E produced. By the way, that was on the show, but someone really leaked the trailer on YouTube...smart move. I won’t go into the granular details of the episode or storyline, but it’s hilarious to see the behind the scenes moves of agents, producers, directors, and what goes on in Hollywood in general. Again I recommend watching it! So, someone leaked the trailer on YouTube and it started getting a ton of views. Great buzz marketing tactic, right? Was it leaked? Was it a ploy? Who knows, but heck, it’s a TV show!

The (Real) Bzz Marketing Begins…
At the end of the last episode, where you typically watch scenes from the following week, you were hit with what seemed to be the beginning of a movie trailer. I was really surprised… What was this?? It was the trailer for Medellin. Brilliant! We watched it 3 or 4 times, again, starting to get sucked into the real, sorry fictional, world of Entourage. :) At the end of the trailer, they flashed the website URL for the movie, medellinthefilm.com. OK, we’re there! There are 30 million subscribers to HBO, so how many people do you think ran to their computers like we did to visit the official website of Medellin? How many people started blogging about it (like I am now)? Digg already has a bunch of stories about it, and I’m sure the original story was from someone at HBO! We first typed medellinthemovie.com and ended up at some weird site that had nothing to do with the show or movie. Then I quickly found a blog post explaining that many people were entering the wrong URL, and that it was actually medellinthefilm.com. Again, keep in mind, this is for a fictional show and a movie that’s part of a fictional show… The official site must have received a ton of visitors over the past few days. With one, 90 second trailer at the end of a show, HBO started a craze on the web to find the trailer, the site, and this all generated serious bzz on blogs, forums and social media sites ALL ABOUT A MOVIE THAT’S NOT REAL!

Medellin, The Real Movie?
HBO might generate enough buzz that Medellin the movie could actually get made. Heck, if you were HBO, wouldn’t you create an original film knowing that millions of people are already on board? Wouldn’t it be wild if Vince Chase stars in the movie? Remember, there is no Vince Chase…he’s a character in Entourage. Confused?

In closing…
I believe there’s a lot to learn about Buzz Marketing and Amplified WOM from this example. Leave it to HBO get people buzzing about a movie that hasn’t even been shot yet! ...And all on a TV show that walks a fine line between fact and fiction, and with real, I mean fictional characters, agents, and directors in the wonderful world of Hollywood.

It’s amazing to see how 90 seconds can light a fire under so many people. Is there another medium, other than the web, that could drive buzz like this? I don’t think so…and it's why I love what I do. :)

My final thoughts for Entourage fans:
Keep watching Entourage, try to find your own Ari Gold, root for Drama because there's no hope, laugh at Turtle so HBO keeps him on the show, be as bold as E, and eat up risk like Vince Chase…all from the comfort of your own home!

It’s not TV, it’s HBO. :)

GG

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, February 19, 2007

Can Podcast Marketing Impact Your Business? -- A Simple Internet Marketing Case Study



I was talking with a business owner the other day about web marketing strategy and he explained an interesting story to me that recently impacted his business. It ends up his company received several leads from a place he had never thought of as a source of leads before…a podcast. His products are B2B-driven and the price point is relatively high. He pointed me to the podcast where his products and company were mentioned so I could help him evaluate the potential of the podcast marketing channel. To be specific, he wanted to know if this was an anomaly, or if could he benefit long-term from this type of marketing. He is not technically savvy and was honest that blogs, podcasts, and vodcasts were new to him.

Some initial questions I had:

1. Would he consider paid advertising (ad spend) in the future for podcasts or does he want to launch an organic WOM campaign targeting podcasts?
This changes the entire dynamic, doesn’t it? Based on my experience with both organic word of mouth and amplified word of mouth, you cannot underestimate the power and return on investment of organic WOM. Little or no ad spend with the possibility of yielding confidence in thousands of prospects from hearing about your company or product from trusted sources is a powerful mechanism. He did not pay for the mention in this particular podcast, and explained that he would like to keep it that way, so it's clear that we are now talking about organic WOM. I told him that this was a good thing and that I agreed with him. :-)

2. Who recorded the podcast and why was his product part of it?
The podcast was recorded by a group of industry experts that focus on trends in the industry and emerging products or solutions. Wonderful! They have a solid base of listeners who trust their opinions. Keep in mind that this can also be dangerous if the experts didn’t have a positive view of his product…but thankfully they did. Then I asked how they heard about the product in question. It ended up that WOM was the driver. So, this mention in the podcast is actually a second generation Word of Mouth element. Even better! This shows how WOM can weave its own path organically through people in an industry. The experts actually heard about the product from one of their listeners!

3. Did the podcast yield quality prospects?
Overwhelmingly yes! They were qualified leads, period. These podcasts are intended for people immersed in a fast moving industry. It targets people that are always looking for a way to get a leg up on their competition. In addition, questions from the prospects were extremely targeted and they had budgets to play with.

4. Did the podcast explain his product the way he would want it explained?
Not exactly, the mention of the pricing was a little off and process for getting up and running was the old process (they implemented a newer solution since the original customer had used it.) That said, the podcast segment that explained the product was extremely positive. They even mentioned the name of the sales rep to call (based on the customer’s positive experience with him). Are you starting to see how something like a podcast or a blog post can build confidence in a prospect? This is why I tell my clients that organic WOM is ultra-powerful.

5. Did the podcast generate revenue for him?
Yes, the business landed sales from the podcast leads. The sales cycle was also much quicker (which also saves the company money…) The conversion rate of the podcast leads was 30% higher than someone coming from natural search, and 40% higher than someone coming from paid search.

The Bottom Line:
My opinion is that he should create an organic WOM strategy targeting podcasters (and bloggers) in his industry. I also recommended that he should start his own podcast. Based on my experience, the more his company podcast gets noticed, the more other podcasters will be intrigued, which might lead to more coverage. With a relatively small budget, why not try and replicate what happened with this recent podcast that yielded qualified leads? It makes sense, doesn't it?

Some Podcasting Marketing Tips to Keep in Mind:
(If you have some control over the content…)

* Ensure the website is mentioned (clearly). Since podcasts are audio-driven, you can even spell out the website, if needed. For example, “visit gsqinteractive.com to learn more, that’s G, S as in Sam, Q, interactive.com. All as one word.” Something like this will help listeners find you.

* Have a contact at your company mentioned. For example, Glenn Gabe helped me set up my paid search listings. He was helpful and extremely knowledgeable! OK, I won’t get out of control here talking about myself! :)

* Mention a phone number. Even though a podcast is associated with online marketing, some people still like the immediacy of calling a company! Especially if you mention a contact, like I recommended above.

* Make sure your core information is included in the podcast’s feed. Every podcast utilizes an RSS feed (just like blogs do) to keep subscribers up to date on current podcasts. This feed can be indexed by the search engines, so don’t overlook it! The power of RSS for organic search is for another blog post, but I wanted to mention it here anyway!

In Closing:
If you were ever wondering if a podcast or vodcast could impact your business, I hope this simple case study shed some light on the subject. The concept is actually quite simple and is grounded in traditional marketing:

As a marketer, you want to get your message in front of a targeted, qualified audience. Having trusted sources recommend your product, based on their positive experiences with it, make that message even more powerful.

Podcasts and vodcasts, although web marketing focused, can help you achieve this. It’s not for every business, but you won’t know unless you try it!

Happy Podcasting!

GG

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

YouTube and Video Marketing - Glenn Gabe On Making An Impact The Web 2.0 Way




As many of you know, I heavily focus on Rich Media Marketing, especially the use of video marketing to support online campaigns. I'm also confident that most of you have heard of Youtube! :-) I'm in the middle of a large Buzz Marketing campaign right now and as part of our marketing efforts, we uploaded a video trailer of the campaign to the major web 2.0 sites for user-generated video. I thought I would write a post about it to share some of my findings.

YouTube (and web 2.0 sites like it) are powerful mechanisms for viral marketing. That said, you still need eyeballs viewing your video clip and it's getting harder to accomplish as more people are adding content! I'm sure everyone has experienced someone forwarding a YouTube video via email, or watched a YouTube video in a blog. My guess is that the video was ridiculously funny or disturbing...you know something that grabs your attention. That leads to the question, "Can YouTube (or sites like it) really help promote your marketing campaign? Will people watch it, like it, and pass it on?"

I refer to YouTube frequently in this post, but there are several user-generated sites for video like DailyMotion, Google Video, Yahoo Video, etc. My question obviously applies to these other sites as well.

Let's get back on track...We launched a Buzz Campaign last week that uses my video marketing platform (Heighten) as the platform for the campaign. Visitors can watch video-based clues over a certain time period to try and win a prize worth $4000. As part of the campaign, I edited a video trailer that was uploaded to the top web 2.0 video sites. Also, we provided a way to download the trailer from the campaign website.

So, what are the results? Which site or mechanism works best?

Here is a quick rundown:

YouTube - 28% of the views
Our Downloadable Trailer (on the Campaign Website) - 27%
Daily Motion - 26% of the views
Google Video - 13% of the views
Yahoo Video - 5% of the views

So it seems that YouTube is the winner (at least for our campaign) and that providing a downloadable video trailer on our campaign website was a smart move. The hope of course, is that the people that downloaded the trailer passed it around via email (we kept the file-size down to under 4MB). And of course we want the web 2.0 sites to fuel some viral marketing with the ease of their forwarding process or the ability to post the video elsewhere via copy and paste.

It should be interesting to see the final numbers for our online marketing efforts when the campaign is done. What I can tell you is that our online marketing mix is resulting in a high level of website activity... For example, yesterday's activity just doubled our best day of the campaign...

GG

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, October 30, 2006

What's an RSS Feed? By Popular Request...




Sometimes, just because a technology is hot, we think everyone knows how to use it or benefit from it. I've heard a lot of questions over the past few months about RSS. So, I've decided to write this post to demystify RSS, explain how you can use it, and why you see it on almost every blog and website today. Think of this post as the Cliffs Notes version of subscribing to an RSS feed.

You should read this blog post if:

* You are tired of internet marketing professionals like myself throwing around technology-based acronyms!

* You have seen RSS, XML, and references to Feeds but have no idea what the heck that means.

* You have clicked a feed icon or link on a website and was taken to a page chock full of xml and had no idea what to do with it!

* You want to take advantage of RSS feeds to keep up to speed on your top interests.

Let's define RSS:
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (or Rich Site Summary), depending on where you find the definition. You can think of it as a way to quickly keep up to date on your favorite sites, blogs, news, sports, and just about anything else you can think of. It is an XML feed (Extensible Markup Language), which has become the defacto standard for exchanging data on the web. RSS feeds contain a hieracrchy of information that keep you up to date on your favorite information. View my blog's RSS feed now so you can get a good feel for what it looks like and how RSS feeds are structured.

OK,Why Would I Subscribe to an RSS Feed?
Good question and one I hear at least 15 times per week as I speak with business owners, marketing managers, coworkers, and friends. The easiest way to answer this question is to give you an example. Let's say you are a huge Yankees fan - this is a hypothetical situation of course...not like I'm a huge Yankees fan whose father grew up a few blocks from the house that Ruth built! :-) So, let's say that you travel extensively for business, you have two kids, and you haven't been able to watch the games on TV like you once could. Here comes RSS to the rescue! You can log into mlb.com and find the section for team RSS feeds. You will see an orange button labeled RSS or XML for each team. This is how mlb will enable you to access the RSS feed (and how most sites set up their feeds.) If you click the icon for the Yankees, you will be taken to the feed. This is where many people lose their patience... Nothing happens and it looks like a bunch of code. That's because you are supposed to subscribe to the feed you just accessed. But how? The quickest way is to copy the URL from the address bar in your browser. For example, highlight the entire URL (http://mlb.mlb.com/partnerxml/gen/news/rss/nyy.xml) and copy it. But you aren't done yet. You need a way to view the RSS feed, right? That's where RSS Aggregators come in (or newsreaders). Read on. Believe me, you are close to being done.

RSS Aggregators (Newsreaders or Readers):
Readers enable you to collect and view all of your RSS feeds in one place, without having to visit the actual website. Cool, right? A list of popular RSS Aggregators can be found here. Once you install your preferred reader, you need to subscribe to the feed you copied above (the URL we copied on mlb.com) Each reader is slightly different, but they all easily let you "subscribe to a feed". When you want to subscribe, you will need to paste the URL you copied above and click ok (or whatver the next step is in your preferred reader). The reader will do the rest, and in a few seconds, you will see the headlines from the feed in question. Click a headline and you will see a summary of the story along with a link to view the entire story on the web.

At this point, you are probably brainstorming a thousand ways to use RSS. You will also probably spend the next hour or two subscribing to RSS feeds that interest you. Once you set up your top feeds, you can simply open your reader and see the top stories or headlines from your favorite sites in seconds versus browsing to each site, waiting for pages to load, seeing advertising, so on and so forth. Then, you can easily link to the actual stories (on the web) for posts that interest you. For example, I subscribe to the Technology feed from Google News. The feed might show 50+ listings in the morning, but I can easily scan them, search the headlines, and find stories that interest me. Then I can visit the specific webpages to read the full story. This saves me a lot of time, considering I subscribe to 20-25 of the top internet marketing feeds.

Why do I see XML, RSS, Feed, etc. - Which one do I need?
The icons and links you see on websites (RSS, XML, RSS Feed, Site Feed) have become standards so visitors can easily know where to find the specific feed. For example, check out the webpage on cnn.com, which lists their RSS feeds. By clicking these icons or links, you will taken to a specific RSS feed. For example, click "Top Stories" and you will see the feed. Then just follow the steps listed above for subscribing to the feed in your preferred reader. Then move on to your next feed! It's definitely addicting!

Now what?
If you are as busy as most people are today, then you will benefit from RSS. It saves me hours per day, literally. Let's face it, if you had a mechanism that can centralize all of the top stories that you are interested in, lets you search and organize these top stories, and then provides a way for you to visit the webpages and stories that interest you most, then wouldn't you want to leverage that mechanism every day? Or at least a few times per week?

Although this was a brief introduction, I hope this post demystified RSS for you. If I did my job correctly, you will have subscribed to 10 or 15 feeds by the end of today. If it saves you 1 hour per day across 200 business days in the year, you just improved your efficiency by 25 business days (considering an 8 hour work day). Not bad for a blog post, huh? :-0

Labels: ,